Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 16:49 UK

Israeli border police unit to tackle settler violence

Burned car in Hawara village, 14.04.2010
Cars have been burned and a mosque vandalised in the north West Bank

Israel's border police are to post a special task force in the northern West Bank to stop settler violence against Palestinians, the military says.

It said the decision followed what the military called a "riot" by settlers in the area last week.

The force was to prevent "retributional violence" by settlers against Palestinians and to prevent damage to property, the military said.

Palestinians mosques, cars and trees were recently attacked in the area.

The decision to deploy the new task force "was made due to violent confrontations during Independence Day," the Israeli military said.

Last Tuesday, the military called "intolerable" an incident in which it said about 100 settlers threw rocks and attacked soldiers as they tried to stop the settlers entering a Palestinian village.

One soldier was injured in the face by a bottle thrown by a settler.

Residents of the nearby settlement of Yitzhar were quoted by Israeli media as saying the soldiers harassed them as they tried to visit the area.

The previous week a mosque was vandalised with Hebrew grafitti, cars were burned and olive trees uprooted in the village of Hawarra, also near Yitzhar settlement.

Some hard-line settlers advocate a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure they see as threatening Jewish settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to limit building in the settlements for 10-months to help restart peace talks with the Palestinians has angered many in the settler movement.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements.

There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

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